by Sophie Farnsworth

Making progress: my apprenticeship journey

Making progress: my apprenticeship journey

I’m Sophie, I’ve worked at Bidfood for 5 years. I worked in the HR operations team for 4 years and last year I started a new role as Resourcing Manager. I am part of the Learning and Talent Development team. The main objective of my role is to make sure we have the ability to effectively resource and employ great people to join our Best Team here at Bidfood.

After achieving amazing GCSE results that I never expected (I had to use my pocket money for a weekly maths tutor to see me through), I followed the norm and joined my sixth form.

I always had a part time job from the age of 14 and enjoyed the financial freedom, so when it came to deciding whether to accept an extra shift at the pub or attend an English Lit class, I followed the cash to fund my weekend!

After a few short months I decided to skip sixth form and get a job, to the absolute horror of my mum and sixth form leader. I was really lucky that my sixth form leader marched me to the career advisor who put me in contact with a local apprenticeship provider.

I started an IT apprenticeship at East Midlands Ambulance Service and at that time could have never imagined the doors it would open for me. I was really lucky that I had a power house boss I reported to who quickly taught me how to carry yourself within the workplace and the art of customer service. At only 16 I was working on a huge IT transformation project and I was developing tools and processes to improve service, reduce cost and make our local ambulance stations lives as easy as possible.

The highlight of that first apprenticeship was getting to meet Saira Khan off one of the original ‘The Apprentice’ series and was my first experience speaking to a CEO.

I quickly realised that IT wasn’t my path in life, so my boss bent the ear of the local General Manager and bagged me a role as his PA. I subsequently carried out two further apprenticeships whilst working as a PA, in Business Admin Level 3 and First Line Management – I thought I was winning at life having an apprentice reporting in to me when I was only 17.

I was extremely fortunate that the HR Manager on my site took a shine to me, mostly because I was a goody two shoes and offered to help anyone with anything. I told her that I was fed up in my role and wanted more, so she helped me create a Personal Development Plan (PDP) and I went and spent time with various departments within the Ambulance Service. After spending time with finance, paramedics, call operators and HR among lots of others. It was HR that stuck.

I’m now ten years in to my HR career, now working within the Learning and Talent Development Team at Bidfood. Although my original apprenticeship was IT, I hope my story demonstrates that you don’t have to stay in one field, keep exploring opportunities. I am so grateful for the opportunities my apprenticeship provided me with and my only advice to anyone is if you don’t ask, the answer will always be no.

This is the first blog of a three part series, celebrating National Apprenticeship week

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